The SBA or Small Business Association is an agency of the federal government designed to help entrepreneurs start their own small businesses. One major misconception about the SBA is that it offers small business grants. It does not. Business grants are fairly rare and when they are offered they generally come from non-profit organizations founded with the mission of helping certain types of proprietors such as women or minorities in starting their own businesses. Instead, the SBA does offer several beneficial loan programs. It also provides local support nationwide to new entrepreneurs through state-based offices that provide counseling and options for financing. If you are looking for help getting your own small business off the ground, do not contact Washington, DC. Instead, look up the closest SBA District Office nearest you and contact this local office to make use of its services. With all that said, while the SBA does not actually offer a grant for women starting their own small businesses, it does in fact target a good bit of its support specifically to women entrepreneurs. If you are a woman thinking of starting your own company or already have your own business you are hoping to grow, here is how the SBA can help.
SBA Loans and Grants
Around 20% of the loans issued by the SBA are provided to women owned businesses. And while the SBA does not itself offer grants, it does provide this handy loans and grants search tool. Take a moment to use this tool to quickly discover all loans and grants you may be eligible to apply for through the SBA. But understand when it comes to grants, that while there may in fact be grants available for your female owned business, most likely these will be found in your local area. Many cities provide economic development corporations that do provide grant funding for local start-up businesses. So if you do not turn up any available grants by using this SBA tool, make sure you check with your local municipality, state and SBA District Office to find out if there are any specific grants only available where you live. Also, do not discount the possibility of taking out an SBA loan. These loans are often quite competitive with other financing options such as business loans available through your local bank.
Office of Women’s Business Ownership
This office of the SBA was created by an executive order in 1979. The office provides a network of nationwide Women’s Business Centers, oversees the National Women’s Business Council and offers several opportunities for training and mentoring for women starting their own businesses. These include the SCORE Program, a private non-profit funded by SBA dollars that offers mentoring, counseling and local business workshops for American small business owners.
Women’s Business Centers
There are almost 100 SBA run Women’s Business Centers open in the United States. They exist to level the playing field in the male dominated world of small business providing opportunity for female entrepreneurs to succeed in starting their own businesses as well. While these centers do not offer grants, they provide counseling and training assistance. It is the mission of this network of centers to help women start and grow their own businesses, especially those that face economical and social challenges. To find the Women’s Business Center closest to you, click on the link above and select your state. Almost every state has at least one center and larger states like California have ten or more. If you are a woman starting your own business, you should definitely take advantage of the valuable support offered by this network of centers.
Small Business Grants for Women
Back in July, we covered small business grants offered by a few private foundations and corporations that are specifically offered to women looking to start their own small businesses. These grants are typically fairly small. Most offer only around $500 to $2,000 to women starting a small business. But there are a handful of larger grants that provide $12,000 to $15,000 each. When starting any business, every extra bit of capital helps. And since grants do not have to be repaid, these small grants are probably worth chasing down. So if you are a women thinking over the prospect of taking your idea for a new business to fruition, check out these sources for grants designed to help you do just that. There are opportunities to help you start a jewelry business, break into fashion design or take an idea for a new childcare product to the masses. Some of the smaller grants are offered without any restrictions, as well, allowing you to use this money to do anything you see fit to help your new business idea along.